Community Spotlight: Shinji’s Story as a Japanese One-eyed Pilot

Today we’d like to highlight an incredible pilot with an important message to share. His name is Shinji Maeda and he is the first Japanese one-eyed certified pilot. Here is a brief look into his story:

Shinji always wanted to be a pilot, and in 1998 he had an experience that seemingly sealed his fate. “I lost my right eyesight back in 1998 because of a car accident.  Doctors gave my family a 50/50 chance of survival because the crash caused a severe skull fracture. Losing my right eyesight was just a secondary effect to me because I almost lost my life.” Living in Japan at the time, there was no way for him to become a pilot with his physical condition because of the country’s aviation laws.

In 2002, Shinji became an international student at Embry Riddle to study Safety science. It was here where one of his professor’s took him up into the air in his Cessna and let him fly. His professor told him that it was possible for him to be a pilot if he worked for it. Shinji had all but given up on his dream, but with a push from his professor, he decided to work towards his goal.

In 2005, he earned his private pilot’s license, making him the first Japanese one-eyed certified pilot in history. While finding the inner strength to leave his family in Japan to achieve his dreams, he now wants to spread the word to all those who may have a physical disability or similar that they too, can achieve seemingly impossible dreams.

“I am now a certified flight instructor and every day I fly with student pilots who used to be like me. I just want to pay it forward to the aerospace community. Moreover, I am representing Aero Zypangu Project, 501c3 NPO and give motivational speeches/discovery flights upon request to the public. Not only that, I am planning to circumnavigate the world in 2021 with my Bonanza to spread dreams and hopes to everybody.”

In May 2021, Shinji plans to circumnavigate the globe to give motivational talks throughout the world. He plans on flying to 16 different countries to offer his insight into aviation, reaching goals, and overcoming obstacles.

We feel empowered by Shinji’s story and encourage anyone who feels drawn to aviation to continue to pursue it. Microsoft Flight Simulator seeks to bring pilots new and old to discover the joys of flying, and we hope you continue the aviation journey in a real aircraft if it calls to you.

We will be live streaming with Shinji tomorrow, October 1st, at 1730Z (10:30 am PDT) and watch him delve into the sim for the first time and visit a few places on his World Tour, including Japan. Join us and come with questions for him! Follow us on Twitch.

If you are interested in supporting his mission, check out his non-profit, https://www.aerozypangu.com/, where you can learn more about his goals. You can also donate to his mission here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/one-eyed-pilot-flying-the-world-mission